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Is Lyocell Biodegradable?

Natural decomposition occurs everywhere. But post-consumer waste is varied — some are made of easily degradable materials, while others will last for thousands of years. Ahead, we explore what biodegradability truly means and find out if lyocell can make the cut.

Key Takeaways:

How Do Clothes Biodegrade?

For sustainability, designing clothes with the potential to biodegrade at the end of their lives is an environmentally proactive response to the rising level of material waste overflowing in landfills. The process of biodegradation involves a fibre or garment being broken down into simpler substances with a little help from light, air or water and microorganisms to find its way back to the earth. Ideally, this process must occur over a relatively short period of time without leaving any toxins behind

Can All Materials Biodegrade?

Unfortunately, not all fibres can biodegrade. Synthetic or petroleum-based fibres like polyester, nylon, acrylic or spandex come from a carbon-based chemical source and are, therefore, considered to be non-biodegradable. These fibres persist in the environment for thousands of years because microorganisms lack the enzymes necessary to break the fibre down. 

However, animal and plant-based fabrics degrade into simple particles pretty easily but not if they are made from fibre-blends. If synthetic and natural fibres are blended together — like wool and acrylic — decomposition will be hindered. 

Is Lyocell Clothing Biodegradable?

Made from the wood pulp of sustainably managed eucalyptus tree plantations, lyocell is a plant-based fibre that is completely biodegradable and compostable. 

Technically known as a ‘cellulosic fibre', lyocell is made using a closed-loop, non-toxic process.  

To create lyocell, the wood is pulped after which a mixture of water and a natural solvent is added to break down the fibres. The solvent is 99.9% reclaimed and reused in a closed-loop process. The raw cellulose is then pushed through spinnerets where lyocell fibres emerge, which, after washing and drying, are ready to be spun into yarn and eventually woven into the fabric. The end result is an incredibly soft and biodegradable fabric.

If you have sensitive skin then look no further because lyocell is hypo-allergenic, 50% more absorbent than cotton and doesn’t cling to your skin like polyester. 

Lyocell’s breathability is also a boon for the environment; since it doesn’t start smelling as quickly, it can be worn for extended periods of time and washed less frequently.

When you wear lyocell, you can have the assurance that your fashion choices are not contributing to an adverse impact on the environment. 

If you are intrigued to know what lyocell looks like, then feel free to peruse through our gorgeous lineup of sustainable lyocell clothing for women.

Published by: Vibhuti Vazirani/ 2021-03-03

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